Traditional and Advanced Wound Product Types

Wound management technologies have been under development for hundreds of years. The current state of product and technology development is now largely represented by thirteen different product categories described with their specific typical applications (1)Specific companies and products are detailed in “Wound Management to 2026”, report S254.

Wound Management Technologies By Type

Wound product categoryDescriptionPotential applicationsProduct and Manufacturer Examples
Traditional GauzeInexpensive, common, breathable, usually dries out the wound, may stick to wound causing damage when removedMay be used to secure a dressing in place, or directly over any wound type to keep it clean while allowing aeration.See link
Traditional AdherentDry, inexpensive, common, non-absorbent, will not stick to wound. Usually uses a wide mesh material with a finer mesh or foam, nonstick material.Applied directly to wound; used for large surface wounds such as abrasions or burns. Indicated when a good granulation bed has developed.


Traditional Non-AdherentConforms to wound, keeps wound bed moist, will not stick to the surface of wound.Light to moderately exudative wounds, burns.


FilmAvailable as adhesive, thin transparent polyurethane film, and as a dressing with a low adherent pad attached to the film.Clean, dry wounds, minimal exudate; also used to cover and secure underlying absorptive dressing, and on hard-to-bandage locations, such as heel.


FoamPolyurethane foam dressing available in sheets or in cavity filling shapes. Some foam dressings have a semipermeable, waterproof layer as the outer layer of the dressingEnables a moist wound environment for healing. Used to clean granulating wounds with moderate to severe exudation.


HydrogelColloids that consist of polymers that expand in water. Available in gels, sheets, hydrogel impregnated dressings.Provides moist wound environment to add moisture to dry wound, aids in cell migration, reduces pain, helps to rehydrate eschar. Used on dry, sloughy or necrotic wounds.


HydrocolloidMade of hydroactive or hydrophilic particles attached to a hydrophobic polymer. The hydrophilic particles absorb moisture from the wound, convert it to a gel at the interface with the wound. Conforms to wound surface; waterproof and bacteria proof.Gel formation at wound interface provides moist wound environment. Dry necrotic wounds, or for wounds with minimal exudate. Also used for granulating wounds.


AlginateA natural polysaccharide derived from seaweed; available in a range of sizes, as well as in ribbons and ropes.Because highly absorbent, used for wounds with copious exudate. Can be used in rope form for packing exudative wound cavities or sinus tracts.


AntimicrobialBoth silver and honey are used as antimicrobial elements in dressings.Silver: Requires wound to be moderately exudative to activate the silver, in order to be effective


CollagenAvailable in several forms, including gels, pads, pastes, particles, sheets, solutions, and are derived from bovine, porcine or avian sources. Collagen dressings are often used for PUs, VLUs, skin donor sites and surgical wounds, arterial ulcers, DFUs, second-degree burns and trauma wounds.


NPWTComputerized vacuum device applies continuous or intermittent negative or sub-atmospheric pressure to the wound surface. NPWT accelerates wound healing, reduces time to wound closure. Comes in both stationary and portable versions.May be used for traumatic acute wound, open amputations, open abdomen, etc. Seems to increase burn wound perfusion. Also used in management of DFUs. Contraindicated for arterial insufficiency ulcers. Contraindicated if necrotic tissue is present in over 30% of the wound.


Bioengineered Skin & Skin SubstitutesBio-engineered skin and soft tissue substitutes may be derived from human tissue (autologous or allogeneic), xenographic, synthetic materials, or a composite of these materials.Burns, trauma wounds, DFUs, VLUs, pressure ulcers, postsurgical breast reconstruction, bullous diseases


Growth FactorsOften derived from human placenta from a healthy delivery (i.e. amniotic tissue allografts) and amniotic fluid components.May be used for any type of wound, but most often used for chronic, non-healing wounds such as DFUs and VLUs, and potentially with second-degree burns.


Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report S254.

References   [ + ]

1. Specific companies and products are detailed in “Wound Management to 2026”, report S254

Billions in global wound care sales, yet chronic wounds still a chronic problem

Healthcare systems move billions in global wound care sales, yet chronic wounds still are a chronic problem. Despite the legion of products developed for wound care, from dressings to bioengineered skin, the obesity- and age-driven increase in chronic slow-healing and non-healing wounds plague healthcare systems globally. Results according to MedMarket Diligence’s biennial, 2018 Wound Management report (#S254).

Trends in wound prevalence by type
Trends in wound prevalence by type including chronic wounds

BIDDEFORD, Maine – April 1, 2018 – PRLog — Research and routine clinical practice in wound management have advanced the science to better understand and address chronic wounds, but much work remains for research and manufacturing to impact the growing caseload.

Chronic wounds represent a large but still underestimated problem for health systems globally and industry needs to step up in response, according to MedMarket Diligence, LLC.

“Our recent research shows that chronic wounds, which have long been no secret to clinicians, epidemiologists, and product manufacturers as a growing health problem, are actually even more prevalent and costly than has been previously reported,” says Patrick Driscoll of MedMarket Diligence, who has tracked wounds in clinical practice and industry for 25 years.

Care of chronic wounds is a significant, global burden on healthcare systems. In the USA alone, it is estimated that at least 6.7 million people suffer with chronic wounds, requiring treatment in excess of $20-50 billion per year (estimates vary according to the definitions). A report from the UK suggests, based on National Health System (NHS) data, that chronic wound prevalence in developed countries is about 6% and that care of chronic wounds accounts for around 3-5.5% of total healthcare spending in those countries. (Phillips CJ, et al. Estimating the costs associated with the management of patients with chronic wounds using linked routine data. Int Wound J. 2015. doi: 10.1111/iwj.12443.)

Definitions help clinicians determine whether a wound is healing or not. For example, for venous leg ulcers (VLUs), if the wound has not shown at least a 40% reduction in wound size in about four weeks, then additional therapies are called for. A non-healing foot ulcer is generally defined to be any ulcer that is unresponsive to standard therapies and persists after four weeks of standard care. Once a foot ulcer occurs, unfortunately some 60% of patients end up moving into the chronic non-healing category. Many diabetics develop foot ulcers.

Chronic wounds and burns continue to present challenging clinical problems. For example, chronic wounds may present with persistent infections, inflammation, hypoxia, non-responsive cells at the wound edge, the need for regular debridement, etc. For DFUs, it is important for the patient to continuously wear an offloading device such as a special boot. Additionally, the practitioner must carefully debride not only the necrotic tissue in the wound bed, but the wound edges. Cells at the wound edge seem to be unresponsive to typical healing signals, and therefore must be removed to promote and support proper healing.

Wound management is the subject ongoing research and publications ( by MedMarket Diligence, LLC.

Patrick Driscoll

The Human Burden of Wound Care

To the person with a chronic wound, the condition represents pain, social and psychological debilitation and usually a financial load. To society, wound care—and especially the treatment of difficult-to-heal wounds—may represent great human suffering, social discomfort, days lost from work, mental health problems, recurrent infections and great economic burden and the human burden of wound care. Having a chronic wound not only necessitates physical care of the wound, including cleaning, disinfecting, irrigating, and changing dressings; it also impacts the emotional and psychological health of the patient. Depression can set in due to a lower quality of life and dependence on others for care of the wound, as well as for overall assistance, both physical and financial. Wounds may cause odors or may have visible drainage, staining clothing and triggering feelings of embarrassment and shame. These in turn may lead to isolation due to decreased mobility and the fear of being a burden on family and friends. To make things worse, increased stress can slow the progress of wound healing.

In caring for a chronic wound, the dressing costs are only part of the picture; the less visible costs include such items as nursing care, medications for pain and infections, and hospitalization. Hospitalization is a leading cost driver for wound care, accounting for at least 50% of the global economic burden. Nursing time to properly care for the patient with a chronic wound can be lengthy, and this is time that could be spent with other patients. In a new report published in the December 2017 online version of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research’s (ISPOR) Value in Health journal (An Economic Evaluation of the Impact, Cost, and Medicare Policy Implications of Chronic Nonhealing Wounds. Nussbaum, Samuel R. et al. Value in Health, Volume 21 , Issue 1 , 27 – 32) (see the study), the researchers found that the costs related to wound care in the Medicare population (USA) were much higher than originally estimated, and that care took place primarily in outpatient settings. For the calendar year 2014, there is considerable variation in the estimates originating from different sources:

“Total Medicare spending estimates for all wound types ranged from $28.1 to $96.8 billion. Including infection costs, the most expensive estimates were for surgical wounds ($11.7, $13.1, and $38.3 billion), followed by diabetic foot ulcers ($6.2, $6.9, and $18.7 billion,). The highest cost estimates in regard to site of service were for hospital outpatients ($9.9–$35.8 billion), followed by hospital inpatients ($5.0–$24.3 billion).”

The development of advanced wound care dressings, devices and biologics is helping to change this situation. Although these advanced products may seem (or may be) expensive, they end up saving money for health care systems by healing wounds more rapidly.

Industry Structure

The wound care industry remains quite fragmented, with about eight companies holding leading market shares, but with possibly thousands of small cap companies around the world that are also manufacturing and marketing various wound care products. The Traditional Wound Care space remains attractive, in part since gauze dressings are relatively easy to manufacture and are also still the most commonly-used wound dressing. Even a small company can invent a novel twist to a dressing and experience a rise in profits and inroads into the market.

Low to medium industry concentration. As the traditional and advanced market shares diagrams below demonstrate, there are five to eight major players in Traditional and Advanced Wound Care Markets.

Traditional Wound Care Market Shares, 2017

Source: Report S254, “Wound Management to 2026”.

While these firms account for about 79% and 73% of the total markets, respectively, a significant portion of these markets are covered by hundreds or thousands of Other companies. This low to medium level of concentration means that smaller companies, or large companies looking to break into Wound Care, are able to do so more easily than if, say, three companies controlled 95% of the market.

Johnson & Johnson is estimated to be the Traditional Wound Care market leader with about 26% share, followed by Smith & Nephew, 3M Health Care and Hartmann. Medline Industries is estimated to account for about 8%, while Others account for about 21% of this market.

Breaking into the Advanced Wound Care markets presents a somewhat greater challenge. Here, the leading companies have invested heavily in R&D to gain strategic competitive advantage, as well as to create improved products for patients. Smith & Nephew is holds an estimated 21% of this market, followed by Acelity and Johnson & Johnson with 11% each, and Mölnlycke, 3M Health Care, Hartmann, Cardinal Health and ConvaTec accounting for smaller shares. Here again, Others accounts for at least 27% of this market.

Advanced Wound Care Market Shares, 2017

Source: Report S254. 

Opportunities exist in both Traditional and Advanced Wound Care, especially if a company is in the position of acquiring part or all of an existing wound care company, and if the company can then invest in the development of its new products. If points of distribution overlap, then so much the better.

Relatively low barriers to entry. Good news for companies wishing to break into wound care: barriers to entry into the traditional wound dressing segments (Adherents, Gauze and Non-Adherent Dressings) are relatively low, while demand remains strong. Typically, once a company is established in a traditional segment, it may either plow revenues into research and development, or it may acquire companies to more easily break into new product segments and markets. Many companies in wound care have followed just this path to gain market share and make an impact in the industry.

From, “Wound Management to 2026”; Report S254. Excerpts available on request.

The Physiology of Wound Healing

Drawn from “Wound Management to 2026”. Details
See also, “Factors Affecting Wound Healing.”

When body tissue is damaged by trauma, surgery, hypoxia, or other destructive processes, the body’s physiology of wound healing quickly reacts to protect itself and begin the process of healing. Clean surgical wounds closed by primary intention heal rapidly and do not usually require additional medical intervention and support. Chronic wounds and those left to heal by secondary intention will require more attention from the medical team. Most of the literature describing the phases of wound healing has been written following investigation of clean, acute wounds, and the sequence and timing of the events described thus only relate to acute wounds. It is assumed that the chronic wound follows a similar wound-healing course with the timing of events delayed or prolonged compared with acute wounds.

All wounds must pass through three recognized physiological processes in order to achieve healing: the inflammatory phase, proliferative phase, and maturation phase. It is useful to view the stages of wound healing as distinct events, but in reality, there is overlap between the phases, and an individual wound may be in several phases at the same time. Unlike acute or surgical wounds, which heal by “primary intent” – the joining of the wound edges by sutures, staples, or adhesive strips – skin ulcers and severe burns heal by “secondary intent,” through the formation of granulation tissue, contraction of the wound, and epithelialization. A normal wound heals in about 21 days in organized phases of inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling, but chronic wounds often stall between the inflammatory and proliferation stages, creating wounds that can last for months or even years. It is only when all the stages have been accomplished over the entire wound surface that complete wound healing has been achieved.

Wound healing physiology is also alternatively divided into defensive, proliferative, and maturation; each phase must be allowed to occur without impediment for healing to be complete. The defensive phase occurs from the time of injury to three days and is characterized by hemostasis and inflammation. The clotting cascade is initiated, and white blood cells mobilize to defend and protect the area from bacterial invasion. Vasodilatation and serous exudate facilitate the removal of debris and the delivery of nutrients to injured tissue.

Proliferation lasts from day two until the area is healed and features granulation, contraction, and epithelialization. Granulation includes neo angiogenesis and collagen formation. Granular tissue is pale pink to beefy red, glistening, and has a rough surface due to blood vessels and collagen deposits. Contraction occurs as a result of myofibroblasts pulling collagen toward the cell body, and epithelialization is the migration of epithelial cells to resurface the area.

Maturation is the last phase of healing, and involves scar remodeling after wound closure. This phase may take years. Maturation sees a scar change from red to purple/pink to white, and from bumpy to flat.

Wound management priorities include: 1) reducing or eliminating causative factors (pressure, shear, friction, moisture, circulatory impairment, and/or neuropathy), 2) providing systemic support for healing (blood, oxygen, fluid, nutrition, and/or antibiotics), and, 3) applying the appropriate topical therapy (remove necrotic tissue or foreign body, eliminate infection, obliterate dead space, absorb exudate, maintain moist environment, protect from trauma and bacterial invasion, and provide thermal insulation).

wound market segments globally
Wound treatments are myriad.

The diversity of wounds and wound care products complicates the dressing selection process; many wounds have several options for dressings that are effective. Matching wound characteristics with dressing features is one important goal in the wound care and healing process. For example, a heavily exuding wound needs an absorptive dressing, and a wound with necrotic eschar needs a dressing that facilitates debridement. Dressings fall into several categories: gauze, hydrogel, hydrocolloid, transparent film, alginate, foam, and accessory products such as enzymes, growth factors, biological dressings, compression devices, support surfaces, and methods for securing dressings.

Factors affecting healing include tissue perfusion and oxygenation, presence or absence of infection, nutrition, medications, underlying disease, mobility and sensation, and age. Circulation and adequate oxygen saturation deliver nutrients for wound healing and gas exchange. All wounds disrupting the integument are contaminated, but not necessarily infected. Bacteria compete with tissues for nutrients, prolonging the inflammatory stage and delay collagen synthesis and epithelialization. Vitamin C, the B vitamins, zinc, and copper are necessary for collagen synthesis. Vitamin A combats the effects of steroids and protein is needed for collagen and skin growth. Steroids and immunosuppressive drugs suppress the inflammatory phase thus slowing the entire healing process. Underlying chronic disease(s) also competes for nutrients, increases risk of infection, and stresses the healing process. Limited mobility and/or sensation contribute to wound formation and impair the perception of wound presence or complications.

Debridement is necessary when necrotic eschar or fibrinous slough is present in the wound base. Necrotic eschar is thick, leathery, devitalized, black tissue, and slough is white or yellow tenuous tissue. Methods of debridement are described as sharp (surgical), mechanical (dressings), autolytic (dressings) and enzymatic (enzymes). Sharp debridement is indicated for extensive necrosis or for large wounds. Mechanical and autolytic debridement is indicated for many pediatric wounds and is accomplished with dressings. Mechanical debridement is done with a wet to dry dressing using woven gauze; as wet fibers dry, tissue adheres to the fiber and is removed when the dressing is removed. Autolytic debridement is also indicated for many pediatric wounds and is done with an occlusive dressing that retains moisture on the wound and allows white blood cells and enzymes to break down necrotic tissue. Hydrocolloids, transparent films, and hydrogels are effective for autolytic debridement. Enzymatic debridement is indicated when selective debridement is desired because enzymes only work on necrotic tissue. Enzymatic preparations contain fibrinolysin, collagenase, papain or trypsin in a cream or ointment base. Enzymatic debridement is slow, but effective, and instructions for using enzymes must be followed closely.

Wound cleansing removes dressing residue, microbes, and cellular debris (may include healing tissue). Cleansing products need to be safe for healing tissue and effective at removing debris. The adage “don’t put anything in a wound you wouldn’t put in your eye” are safe words to work by. Many topical cleansing agents and antiseptics are cytotoxic, and it is imperative to weigh the risks of cytotoxicity against the benefits of cleansing effectiveness and antimicrobial activity.

Normal saline is safe, effective, readily available, and inexpensive. Wound irrigation pressure needs to be high enough to remove debris and low enough to avoid traumatizing tissue. Pressures ranging from 4-15 pounds per square inch (psi) are effective for cleaning. For example, a 60cc catheter tip syringe delivers 4.2 psi, a 35cc syringe with a 19-gauge needle delivers 8.0 psi, and a Water Pik at its highest setting delivers >50 psi. Frequency of wound cleansing varies with wound characteristics and dressing selection, but once a day cleansing is a minimum. Clean versus sterile technique for dressing changes is constantly debated with varying outcomes and supporting arguments. Most importantly, consider the host system defenses and type of wound when deciding whether to use a clean or sterile technique for dressing changes and cleansing.

Wound assessment involves many parameters, but the following indices should be included in continued documentation of wound healing: size (length, width, depth), extent of tissue involvement (partial or full thickness; stage of pressure ulcer), presence of undermining or tracts, anatomic location, type of tissue in base (viable or nonviable), color (red, yellow, black categories), exudate, edges, presence of foreign bodies, condition of surrounding skin, and duration. Photography is useful for documenting progress and should include a measuring scale and date.

Drawn from MedMarket Diligence report #S254,  “Wound Management to 2026”. Details.

Bioengineered Skin and Skin Substitutes, Sales and Growth, 2017 to 2026

The use of bioengineered skin and skin substitutes in the treatment of wounds is on a strong, but variable growth curve. Currently, the highest sales of these products in wound management occurs in the United States, where sales are in excess of $700 million annually already and growth in sales of these products is projected at or near 10% annually through 2026.

While China “only” has sales of just over $200 million in bioengineered skin and skin substitutes, the projected >20% CAGR to 2026 will result in China’s sales approximating U.S. sales in a decade.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S254.

Wound Care Market Shares Worldwide

Analyzing data from Report #S254 ,”Wound Management to 2026″, we present the distribution of top competitors’ sales in each segment in 2017. Smith & Nephew, Johnson & Johnson, and 3M dominate the global wound management, with varying dominance between them — or by other companies — in each segment.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #s254. (Publishing March 2018)

S&N leads the global market, following closely by JNJ. Both companies are active in multiple segments of wound management. S&N has lower traditional wound management product sales (simple dressings and bandages) and higher sales of “advanced” wound management products. J&J does $800 million more sales in traditional dressings, gauze and bandages than S&N, but lesser involvement in newer wound technologies such as NPWT, bioengineered skin, and growth factors.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #s254. (Publishing March 2018)


China, USA, and Japan Wound Markets

The distribution of sales of different wound management products naturally varies from one country to the next based on pricing, reimbursement, local clinical practice trends, cultural characteristics, and any number of other drivers. The net effect is different distributions.

The goal for wound market players in gauging opportunities is knowing where things are going.

In the global aggregate, here is how we anticipate the market for wound management products in 2016 will stack up compared to 2026:

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S254.

As you can see, traditional wound management products are giving way in the balance to advanced products. How this global dynamic plays out differently in local markets is important for manufacturers to consider, as shown in the comparison of wound markets in China, the USA and Japan, both in 2017 and 2026.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S254.

You can see (in graph, above) the difference in relative sizes of the USA, Japan and China wound markets, in both 2017 and 2026. The largest relative increase in the absolute market will occur in China as a result of its double-digit growth rate. By comparison, the USA market overall is growing slightly faster than Japan (5.8% versus 4.2%, CAGR 2017-26).

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S254.

More remarkable is the difference in distribution of products sold in these three countries. With the exception of a consistent general decline in relative sales of traditional products, each of these countries is exhibiting different rates of change in the distribution of wound product sales from 2017 to 2026.

March 2018
Worldwide Wound Management, Forecast to 2026:

Established and Emerging Products, Technologies and Markets in the Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific and Rest of World.” Report #S254.


Country and Regional Variability in Growth of Wound Management Sales

As illustrated in a previous post, wound management products are a spectrum from the simple to the complex:

Source: MedMarket Diligence Report #S254.

Generally, the longer the product has been around (e.g., gauze), the less complex it is compared to emerging technologies…

…BUT simpler is easy to adopt and, with well established sales, growth on a percentage basis will be low (see area in red).

Generally, new technologies incorporate rarer materials, have more complex construction, and may cost considerably more…

…BUT complex technologies may be far more effective clinically than older technologies and may allow treatment where no older technology could, and with low initial sales (penetrated potential), growth on a percentage bases will be high (see area in green).

Country and Regional Variation in Growth Rates

While this size-to-growth dynamic exists for most product types, the dynamic varies from one geographic region to the next. The time point at which a particular product/technology starts to be more rapidly adopted — or the rate at which use of  established products are use starts to decline — can vary considerably from country to country.

As a result, there will be variability in sales growth rates for a product in one country/region versus another.

For example, the 2017 to 2026 compound annual growth rate in sales of Alginates in wound management range from a low of 5.3% in one country to a high of 24.3% in another country. (If you make alginates, in which country would YOU like to compete?)

Regionally, as in USA versus Europe versus Asia/Pacific, etc., there is less variation in growth rates for any given product in that region. For alginates:

country-to-country variation in CAGR: 19%
region-to-region variation in CAGR: 7.8%

In other words, the difference between the countries with the highest and lowest CAGRs for alginate sales is 19%, while the difference between regions shows one region with a 7.8% higher CAGR for alginates than the lowest growth region.

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S254.

Before chasing after that high growth rate, it is important to know the underlying volume. (Sales of $1 in year 1 and $2 in year 2 is a 100% growth rate, but it’s absolute growth of only $1.)

See the full REPORT, “Wound Management to 2026” details or order online. Please also see the forecast and market share data available separately from the report.


The future of medicine in 2037

In the post below from 2016, we wrote of what we can expect for medicine 20 years into the future. We review and revise it anew here.

An important determinant of “where medicine will be” in 2035 is the set of dynamics and forces behind healthcare delivery systems, including primarily the payment method, especially regarding reimbursement. It is clear that some form of reform in healthcare will result in a consolidation of the infrastructure paying for and managing patient populations. The infrastructure is bloated and expensive, unnecessarily adding to costs that neither the federal government nor individuals can sustain. This is not to say that I predict movement to a single payer system — that is just one perceived solution to the problem. There are far too many costs in healthcare that offer no benefits in terms of quality; indeed, such costs are a true impediment to quality. Funds that go to infrastructure (insurance companies and other intermediaries) and the demands they put on healthcare delivery work directly against quality of care. So, in the U.S., whether the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) persists (most likely) or is replaced with a single payer system, state administered healthcare (exchanges) or some other as-yet-unidentified form, there will be change in how healthcare is delivered from a cost/management perspective.  -[Editor’s note: After multiple attempts by the GOP to “repeal and replace”, the strengths of Obamacare have outweighed its weaknesses in the minds of voters who have thus voiced their opinions to their representatives, many seeking reelection in 2018.]

From the clinical practice and technology side, there will be enormous changes to healthcare. Here are examples of what I see from tracking trends in clinical practice and medical technology development:

  • Cancer 5 year survival rates will, for many cancers, be well over 90%. Cancer will largely be transformed in most cases to chronic disease that can be effectively managed by surgery, immunology, chemotherapy and other interventions. Cancer and genomics, in particular, has been a lucrative study (see The Cancer Genome Atlas). Immunotherapy developments are also expected to be part of many oncology solutions. Cancer has been a tenacious foe, and remains one we will be fighting for a long time, but the fight will have changed from virtually incapacitating the patient to following protocols that keep cancer in check, if not cure/prevent it.
    [Editor’s note: Immunology has surged in a wide range of cancer-related research yielding new weapons to cure cancer or render it to routine clinical management.]
  • Diabetes Type 1 (juvenile onset) will be managed in most patients by an “artificial pancreas”, a closed loop glucometer and insulin pump that will self-regulate blood glucose levels. OR, stem cell or other cell therapies may well achieve success in restoring normal insulin production and glucose metabolism in Type 1 patients. The odds are better that a practical, affordable artificial pancreas will developed than stem or other cell therapy, but both technologies are moving aggressively and will gain dramatic successes within 20 years.

Developments in the field of the “artificial pancreas” have recently gathered considerable pace, such that, by 2035, type 1 blood glucose management may be no more onerous than a house thermostat due to the sophistication and ease-of-use made possible with the closed loop, biofeedback capabilities of the integrated glucometer, insulin pump and the algorithms that drive it, but that will not be the end of the development of better options for type 1 diabetics. Cell therapy for type 1 diabetes, which may be readily achieved by one or more of a wide variety of cellular approaches and product forms (including cell/device hybrids) may well have progressed by 2035 to become another viable alternative for type 1 diabetics. [Editor’s note: Our view of this stands, as artificial pancreases are maturing in development and reaching markets. Cell therapy still offers the most “cure-like” result, which is likely to happen within the next 20 years.]

  • Diabetes Type 2 (adult onset) will be a significant problem, governed as it is by different dynamics than Type 1. A large body of evidence will exist that shows dramatically reduced incidence of Type 2 associated with obesity management (gastric bypass, satiety drugs, etc.) that will mitigate the growing prevalence of Type 2, but research into pharmacologic or other therapies may at best achieve only modest advances. The problem will reside in the complexity of different Type 2 manifestation, the late onset of the condition in patients who are resistant to the necessary changes in lifestyle and the global epidemic that will challenge dissemination of new technologies and clinical practices to third world populations.

Despite increasing levels of attention being raised to the burden of type 2 worldwide, including all its sequellae (vascular, retinal, kidney and other diseases), the pace of growth globally in type 2 is still such that it will represent a problem and target for pharma, biotech, medical device, and other disciplines. [Editor’s note: the burden of Type 2 on people, families, communities, and governments globally should motivate policy, legislation, and other action, but global initiatives have a long way to travel.]

  • Cell therapy and tissue engineering will offer an enormous number of solutions for conditions currently treated inadequately, if at all. Below is an illustration of the range of applications currently available or in development, a list that will expand (along with successes in each) over the next 20 years.

    Cell therapy will have deeply penetrated virtually every medical specialty by 2035. Most advanced will be those that target less complex tissues: bone, muscle, skin, and select internal organ tissues (e.g., bioengineered bladder, others). However, development will have also followed the money. Currently, development and use of conventional technologies in areas like cardiology, vascular, and neurology entails high expenditure that creates enormous investment incentive that will drive steady development of cell therapy and tissue engineering over the next 20 years, with the goal of better, more long-term and/or less costly solutions.
  • Gene therapy will be an option for a majority of genetically-based diseases (especially inherited diseases) and will offer clinical options for non-inherited conditions. Advances in the analysis of inheritance and expression of genes will also enable advanced interventions to either ameliorate or actually preempt the onset of genetic disease.

    As the human genome is the engineering plans for the human body, it is a potential mother lode for the future of medicine, but it remains a complex set of plans to elucidate and exploit for the development of therapies. While genetically-based diseases may readily be addressed by gene therapies in 2035, the host of other diseases that do not have obvious genetic components will resist giving up easy gene therapy solutions. Then again, within 20 years a number of reasonable advances in understanding and intervention could open the gate to widespread “gene therapy” (in some sense) for a breadth of diseases and conditions. [Editor’s note: CRISPR and other gene-editing techniques have accelerated the pace at which practical and affordable gene-therapies will reach the market.]
  • Drug development will be dramatically more sophisticated, reducing the development time and cost while resulting in drugs that are far more clinically effective (and less prone to side effects). [Editor’s note: We are revising our optimism about drug development being more sophisticated and streamlined. To a measurable degree, “distributed processing systems” have proven far more exciting in principle than practice, since results — marketable drugs derived this way — have been scant. We remain optimistic as a result of the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, which have have very credible promise to impact swaths of industry, especially in medicine.]
    This arises from drug candidates being evaluated via distributed processing systems (or quantum computer systems) that can predict efficacy and side effect without need of expensive and exhaustive animal or human testing.The development of effective drugs will have been accelerated by both modeling systems and increases in our understanding of disease and trauma, including pharmacogenomics to predict drug response. It may not as readily follow that the costs will be reduced, something that may only happen as a result of policy decisions.

  • Most surgical procedures will achieve the ability to be virtually non-invasive. Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) will enable highly sophisticated surgery without ever making an abdominal or other (external) incision. Technologies like “gamma knife” and similar will have the ability to destroy tumors or ablate pathological tissue via completely external, energy-based systems. [Editor’s note: In the late 1980s, laparoscopy revolutionized surgery for its less invasiveness. Now, NOTES procedures and external energy technologies (e.g., gamma knife) have now proven to be about as minimally invasive as medical devices can be. To be even less invasive will require development of drugs (including biotechs) that succeed as therapeutic alternatives to any kind of surgery.]

    By 2035, technologies such as these will measurably reduce inpatient stays, on a per capita basis, since a significant reason for overnight stays is the trauma requiring recovery, and eliminating trauma is a major goal and advantage of minimally invasive technologies (e.g., especially the NOTES technology platform). A wide range of other technologies (e.g., gamma knife, minimally invasive surgery/intervention, etc.) across multiple categories (device, biotech, pharma) will also have emerged and succeeded in the market by producing therapeutic benefit while minimizing or eliminating collateral damage.

  • Information technology will radically improve patient management. Very sophisticated electronic patient records will dramatically improve patient care via reduction of contraindications, predictive systems to proactively manage disease and disease risk, and greatly improve the decision-making of physicians tasked with diagnosing and treating patients.There are few technical hurdles to the advancement of information technology in medicine, but even in 2035, infotech is very likely to still be facing real hurdles in its use as a result of the reluctance in healthcare to give up legacy systems and the inertia against change, despite the benefits. [Editor’s note: Before AI and other systems will truly have an impact, IT and its policy for healthcare in the next 10 years will solve the problem of health data residing inertly behind walls that hinder efficient use of the rich, patient-specific knowledge that physicians and healthcare systems might use to improve the quality and cost of care.]
  • Personalized medicine. Perfect matches between a condition and its treatment are the goal of personalized medicine, since patient-to-patient variation can reduce the efficacy of off-the-shelf treatment. The thinking behind gender-specific joint replacement has led to custom-printed 3D implants. The use of personalized medicine will also be manifested by testing to reveal potential emerging diseases or conditions, whose symptoms may be ameliorated or prevented by intervention before onset.
  • Systems biology will underlie the biology of most future medical advances in the next 20 years. Systems biology is a discipline focused on an integrated understanding of cell biology, physiology, genetics, chemistry, and a wide range of other individual medical and scientific disciplines. It represents an implicit recognition of an organism as an embodiment of multiple, interdependent organ systems and its processes, such that both pathology and wellness are understood from the perspective of the sum total of both the problem and the impact of possible solutions.This orientation will be intrinsic to the development of medical technologies, and will increasingly be represented by clinical trials that throw a much wider and longer-term net around relevant data, staff expertise encompassing more medical/scientific disciplines, and unforeseen solutions that present themselves as a result of this approach.Other technologies being developed aggressively now will have an impact over the next twenty years, including medical/surgical robots (or even biobots), neurotechnologies to diagnose, monitor, and treat a wide range of conditions (e.g., spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.).

The breadth and depth of advances in medicine over the next 20 years will be extraordinary, since many doors have been recently opened as a result of advances in genetics, cell biology, materials science, systems biology and others — with the collective advances further stimulating both learning and new product development. 

See Reports:

Report #290, “Worldwide Markets for Medical and Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Hemostats, 2015-2022.”

Report #S254, “Wound Management to 2026.”

Naturally sticky: Biologically-based medical glues dominate

Medical glues are either biologically-based, cyanoacrylate, or other synthetic. The bulk of global sales of medical glues are biologically-based, (includes fibrin, thrombogen, and others), cyanoacrylate-based glues, and other synthetic glues.

Cyanoacrylate-based glues, include those from Ethicon, Adhezion Biomedical, B. Braun, Meyer-Haake, and others. Cyanoacrylates provide strong adhesion, but biologically-based glues have found more applications, both topically and internally. “Other” glues are of a variety of synthetic types; these glues have yet to gain more than 4% share globally.

Below is illustrated the growth of biologically-based glues by region, showing that most growth in this segment will be from Asia/Pacific markets, which are consistently demonstrating higher growth than in western markets.

Global Markets for Biologically-Based Medical Glues, 2015-2022, USD MillionsSource: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S290. (Order online)